"It was the best of times, it was……" well, you know the rest. While Mayor Bramson continues to paint a rosy portrayal of this fair city, more and more residents are waking up to the stark reality of just how bad things can get when driven by failed policy. How far have we really come in the past 4 years, 8 years? Revenues are down, taxes are going up so much so that the city council has had to resort to incorportating "fees" to camoulflage the double digit rate increases as they skirt the tax cap. Police are without contract, undermanned and suffering from badge drain.The Fire Dept. struggles to keep the city alive despite operating with less than required resources. Your lucky if your Christmass tree was picked up in time for St Patricks Day and all around the city is the remnant destruction left over from last Octobers Hurricane. The Downtown is hanging on by a thread as the Chamber of Commerce is being investigated, Monroe College is bullying it's way into overwhelming it's neighbors with loud parties, guns in the dorms, unruly crowds being marched down North Ave. by it's leader (did i mention he is head of the New Rochelle Business Improvement District and a major Bramson political contributor?). Our stunning skyline meant to bring in "young professionals with disposable income" has become, to an unacceptable degree, rooming houses for college students, with complaints about the loud parties and urinating in the halls. We've had budget committees, sustainability committees, David's island committees, all hand picked, all good people and all leading to a dead end. Forensic analysis of the school budget places it on the proverbial fiscal cliff. To top it off, left with no money in the coffers, this administration is looking to float a bond to move the city yard to an overpriced parcel purchased from another political goomba (there never was an appraisal prior to purchasing) to make room for a project offering no appreciable value to the city. Do you like another 5, 6, 7% added to your property taxes just for the bond debt alone? That's just the begining. By the time this mayor is done, we'll have more bonds than Ian Flemming's bookshelf. These bonds will float as the taxpayer sinks. Now that's progress! (Unless your Sheldon Cooper I'll trust you get the sarcasm). So here we are, with basically no meaningful growth on any front, abandoned as the mayor pursues that which would benefit his political aspirations.
Enter the latest Echo Bay fiasco. A once grand plan (not as accepted as the mayor would have you believe, but grand nonetheless), shrunken and atrophied, serving only the developer (who, by the way, has contributed thousands of dollars to the Bramson political campaign machine). The absurdity of this can only exist in the world of politics and this absurdity was clearly brought to light at the recent Public Hearing on the Echo Bay DEIS. There were many speakers who shared the logic of how failed the current plan is for the health of the city. This latest plan is so bad in fact, representatives from the New Rochelle School Board felt compelled to state their displeasure on the way the schools will be screwed under the current taxing scheme. Many of us have been saying for years that this administration's policies of tax giveaways have been cripling the schools. Will you listen now? The schools will lose millions of dollars, that means YOU will have to make up that difference with your taxes. There were a couple of speakers enthralled with the possibility of living "on the waterfront" who have probably never heard of Echo Bay and could not have possibly ever visited there. Join me as we take a trip into the fantasy world of the Bramson Bay Community - Ah yes, the young professional in their new condo overlooking the PCB laden smelly mud flats framed by the business end of half a million toilets. Why, on a quiet night you can actually hear the toilets flushing - sort of like those sound machines that lull you to sleep, only stinkier. Lucky for them, they won't need the disposable income because they live in a tax abated property. You, on the other hand will be disposing your income each year into the city coffers to make up the Bramson Folly defecit. All well, back to reality. These people have been sold a bill of goods that can't be delivered. There is no waterfront to enjoy. They promise "views of the Sound from Main Street". It's not there. Five stories of buildings will line Main Street. You will have to drive up and over the hill to see the mud.
There were others who were waiting to get in on the construction jobs. Apparently somebody told them Forest City was willing to go along with this. NOT.
The bottom line that emerged from this hearing was that if you scrutinize the plan, the economics and the adverse effect on the adjoining neighborhoods, this will lend nothing to New Rochelle at large. The neighborhood known as the "East End" will be forever changed for the worse. This city can't manage the traffic and congestion now, how will it manage when traffic reaches "critical mass"? Forest City won't care, it's not their problem. Their traffic studies were flawed in their data and analysis. The overwhelming effect of a canyon of 5 story buildings eclipsing the skies has not been demonstrated even though it was entered into the original scoping session as a consideration. Air polution, noise pollution, human congestion, spillover parking in an already crowded neighborhood (as their own plan shows there's not enough parking), none of this has been addressed. This is what they call planning. The development of Echo Bay was sold with a vision of "seamlessly weaving" the design and scale into the surrounding areas. Not one iota of this is true.
Topping it off, we have a jewel of an opportunity to really create something that all of New Rochelle can be proud of. That is the Armory. Nobody else around here has a Naval Armory. Everyone who has one has found a way to utilize it to their advantage, a showpiece, an anchor for stimulating further deveklopment, however, this administration has been hell bent on not even allowing the possibility to be persued. Even when there's no cost to the city. So we have a mayor who has not only sanctioned the neglect, but he has proactively thrown every obstacle into the works to prevent any progress. His backdoor, 11th hour attempt to sneak through legislation not authorized by the city council that would essentially give the property to Forest City. The refusal to allow, on many occasions, volunteer groups to stabilize the roof, for free. The lack of providing proper security that allowed the theft of one of a kind, historical artwork. The sudden and unexplained subdivision of the Armory property to give a helping hand to the developer. This alone is an active attempt to strangle the Armory. Lord knows, there wasn't any subdivision when his pals from Good Profit wanted to develop. He once made a statement on air, that they have done a thorough evaluation of the viability of the Armory and just couldn't justify it's preservation. So I FOILED the city clerk for the evaluation (in fact everything related to the Armory) and no such document was produced. Makes you wonder, thousands of dollars in contributions from the developer, not an ounce of successful development in all the years as mayor, perhaps he's still bitter about the time he was defeated in the primary by the co-chair of the Save the Armory Committee. Could that be why he ordered the flag to be taken from the hands of two Veterans on the steps of the Armory? It's all coming together now.
This isn't the only place you'll see the disenchantment. Our friend Chaya Babu over at the Daily Voice has a poll that shows a 3 to 1 disapproval of the Forest City Plan. The Westchester County Planning Board finds fault, the Board of Ed wants to be made whole. What's obvious is that as more coverage is provided on this debacle people are coming to realize the truth has not been told, the benefits, or lack of, have not been properly disclosed, and we really need to step back and take another look at things.
Sandy Annabi, Zehy Jereis, Karl Kruger,Lipsky, Malcolm Smith, all involved somehow with Forest City/Ratner. Six degrees of separation? One more name to complete the circle.
Can you still see the Emperors clothes?